When I spent the year working hard and searching, finally discovering what was missing from my life, I didn't realize it was my hometown. I ran away to come back home on New Year's Eve of 2007. It was the best decision I had ever made and from that point on I had realized how much discovering about who I am and where I come from would become a new adventure. When Patrick and I started talking, only a week after I moved back to New Jersey, I didn't really think where that path would travel either, I just was and did what came to my mind at that moment. The fact that this was a man I had a crush on when I was 8 years old and stole my brother's yearbook when I was 14 just to draw little hearts over his pictures, means nothing. Okay it means something, lets just say, I have been obsessed before, and there was a moment of pure teen girl crush on this enigma of a older dude, and I was finally living my fantasy. Who knew that a crush that had been forgotten ten years before, would come to life through a computer messaging service and later blossom into a full blown love affair that would lead to finding my perfect match? I sure as hell didn't. When he asked me out for the first time, I was excited, scared, down right terrified, and perfectly willing to accept that it would lead to no where. We might not even like each other. However, we did have many things in common and since everyone told me he wouldn't date me because I had children, I figured at least we might become friends. I really needed a friend at that point in my life. My sister's were great, my mom was there for me, I had my step-brothers and my boys, but reality was I needed someone who I could just have fun with, laugh, cry and talk with, and he seemed to be fitting the bill, even if the majority of our conversations were through MySpace.
When he showed up at the door of my step-father's house that night, I had tried my hardest to get my little monsters to go to bed before he got there. I wasn't totally ready to share anything with them or them with anyone. They however, must have felt my emotions because they were seriously out of control. Acting like crazy little monkeys, climbing on everything! I had taken pains in getting ready, I had never really been on a date before and I wanted to look pretty, but not overly pretty. I wanted to be myself, but I had only grabbed what I could shove in a duffel bag when I left and I had about four t-shirts, two pairs of jeans and some sweats to my name. He had to wait for a bit and my boys tested him for the first 15 minutes by climbing up his legs and jumping into his arms from the sofa. He spoke with my mom and I don't know, the giddy teenage girl came out when I saw him looking into my 2 year olds eyes and answering his garbled questions like he understood perfectly what he was saying. When we left to go on our date, he opened the car door for me, this was amazing and eye opening, no one does that anymore! Was he trying to impress me with being a gentleman? Was this a one time thing for good measure on a first date or would he always do this whenever we went out? I didn't know then, but he would always open doors for me for the rest of the time we were dating and he still does it even to this day!
There was a slight awkwardness to the car ride at first, 50's music playing on his sirius radio, the windows closed and the heat pumping, I was dying slightly in my jacket, longing for the moment the car was parked and I could get out to get some cool air on my heated face. I remember that I kept glancing over at him, checking out his profile as he drove, wondering what he was thinking about his welcome in my home, what he was thinking about me. I didn't have to think much longer, because once he pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, he leaned over and stole a kiss. A kiss to stop all kisses, a slightly awkward because of my position, a shocking moment that made me blush all over as I sat back in the leather seat, breathing heavily and not know what to do. Suddenly the kiss stopped and I giggled nervously as I unbuckled and got out. I can't remember exactly what I was thinking then, I do know that I hadn't been new to the whole kissing men thing, since I had been free for a year to do as I pleased and I did! However, there was something in that stolen kiss that made butterflies flutter around inside my stomach and my hands shake with nervousness. I had not thought I could be brought back to a time of silly-headed, girlishness, but I was.
As we stood outside waiting to be seated, I remember the awkwardness continuing. I am not a people person, I really hate crowds and there were so many people standing outside that I started to feel claustrophobic. I remember putting my hands deep into the pockets of my jacket and moving back and forth, and it was not from being cold. I had spent a decent amount of time in PA, New Jersey winters were warm by comparison. I couldn't keep my eyes from moving around, even though I wanted to keep staring at him, I found it hard to do. One kiss was all it took for me to feel uncertain and afraid. I barely knew this man, not that that had ever stopped me before, but I suddenly felt shy and I couldn't get out of my own mind. When we finally got seated I knew I had to start a conversation and words just stopped, I looked at the menu in complete silence, willing myself to be charming and smart, but I couldn't, I was so terrified and I was only making it worse.
The funny thing is, dinner is a blur, I remember looking at him under my lashes and thinking that he was still the same as I remembered him, band t shirts and dark denim jeans, cleanly shaven, a tight little goatee, bright blue eyes that I was quite ready to drowned in, even if I couldn't manage to look straight at him. Our hands brushed a few times and we suddenly both got this overwhelming need to tell each other about ourselves, like we hadn't just spent several weeks spilling our souls in emails. We settled into a comfortable conversation and by dessert we were laughing and smiling at each other.
We spent the rest of the night talking- we even made out once, like two teenagers who had spent the last 10 years being someone we weren't- of course, my last ten years were confusing because for a few of them I was still a misunderstood teenager and for the last 5 I was slowly losing myself completely. When we got kicked out of the picnic area by Jackson Falls by the police at midnight, I was feeling all the things I should have felt at 17. It was freeing and it was amazing. We stayed up and reminisced about this town and our childhoods until 3 in the morning. He left and drove all the way back to his house in PA and I couldn't sleep because all I kept thinking about was the color of his eyes and how completely confused I was.
We went on a few more dates after that, we continued to message each other and would call each other every day. Suddenly, after barely a month, I had a boyfriend and I was still confused. How did this happen? I wasn't ready for this, I have two boys I need to support and I need to do this on my own first. I need to prove I can. I started working, another thing he helped me with and we were growing in our relationship with each other. It really was amazing to find out that my mom's words were correct. "When it's right, you'll know!" I didn't know that it would be so soon afterwards when he showed up at the diner I was working at with my two little boys in tow on Valentine's day. They had made me gifts with his help and they were so excited. When I saw their faces and his, my ice heart was melting further and further, I couldn't imagine that there was a human being out there who could heal me. I had decided at that point that I couldn't turn back, I had to ride this till the end. Of course at the time, I was convinced the end would be sooner then I wanted it to be and then not only would I have another broken heart to mend, but I would also have to mend two little hearts as well. As Patrick continues doing to this day, he kept proving me wrong.
I had been living on my Step-father's couch, I had a duffel bag of clothing and nothing personal to my name, it was all still in PA with my brother and sister-in-law. I just had that and my boys and whatever clothes of theirs I had sent down earlier. I was determined to save what I could and find an apartment. When I started looking, I started to feel defeated. Patrick went with me to a few places and every time I would hear the cost of an apartment, I think he saw the deflation on my face. I could never afford that, ever. I was about ready to convince both my sisters to move in with me! Three women, 6 children, we could make it work, it would be a little hard at first, sharing a room with my sisters again, but it beat sleeping on a couch. That night, laying on the couch with Patrick, his arms around me as I cried over the fact that I could never afford to stay in New Jersey, that I knew I was going to have to make a decision quick, he offered himself to me. He said we could move in together and the wall I was taking down one brick at a time, came tumbling down at that! No, no, no. It will never work. We have only been dating for two months, barely, we were jumping in way too fast as it is. I can't do this, everyone will think that their first judgements of me were correct, that I was looking for someone to take care of me and my boys. I was falling in love with this man, I wanted to continue falling in love with him at a slow pace. If we moved in together he would know everything, he would be forced into a life he might end up regretting. I laughed him off and told him no, that I would figure it out and I wasn't going to live in the house he had owned with his ex-wife- no matter how much it would probably would have been an easier option, because I wanted to be back in Rahway so bad. I was determined I would never go back to PA and I meant it, if I had to work two jobs, I would. It wouldn't be the first time in the last year that I spent more time at a job then with my children, but you sacrifice for them.
Over the next couple days he worked hard at convincing me, he showed up every day at my job after he got out of work. He would sit in that big chair in my step-father's living room as I counted out my tips and separated it all into little envelopes, taking barely enough for myself at the end of the night. He watched me smiling at my 4 year old and hugging my 2 year old, as they laughed and played as babies will. He was determined to convince me that this was the best option for both of us. He told me that he was thriving in my chaos, that he felt complete being with me, for the first time in his life he knew what he wanted and that I had what he needed. A girl doesn't really know what she wants, she knows she wants love and shelter and to feel like she has got her shit together. At that moment I just looked into those blue eyes and what I saw there was honest truth. It frightened me! It really truly made me feel like I was out of my mind with a longing to belong with someone, but only one someone, him. We were getting very comfortable in our relationship now and it was a tender loving relationship and he was becoming my best friend. I made him a deal. I said, "We can move in together on one promise. If this doesn't work out, we will stay friends, we will not get jealous of the other person if we move on. We will keep the comfortable companionship we have now just without the romantic part." We shook on that, we had made a promise to each other that we would be friends first, friends always, that he wouldn't up and abandon my boys because he no longer was falling in love with their mother, that we would be a support group, but we would not lean so heavily on each other that if the time came that our relationship as an actual couple didn't work that we couldn't move on without hating the other person for cutting the ties. In less then two weeks, with our combined income tax and savings we found a home to share. It was perfect, because reality was if it didn't work we could separate from each other, and I could have my own room. I made it that I would pay all of the security deposit, I wasn't going to feel like I wasn't going into this 100%, after that we would split the difference. Somehow in the end we ended up making it work in more then just my chaos because he was a hero to my whole family. The sucker. But we did, we made it work.
When later that month I found out I was pregnant, I was ready to lose my mind.
"Everything happens for a reason!"
I can't say I was excited about being pregnant, because I wasn't- I really honestly was scared to death. One, I had convinced myself that I didn't want anymore children, my two were enough. I was happy with them and I just didn't have the money, the time or the energy at this moment to add to my already crazy life. Two, our relationship was still new, I mean yeah we were living together, but to be honest with you, you never know what can happen. A baby complicates things. A baby can make your opinion of each other change. I wasn't ready! I really, really, really, was not ready. However, everything happens for a reason and for a man who had said he never wanted children, who everyone said wouldn't date me because I had children, seemed really excited about the idea that his girlfriend of three months was pregnant. I don't think I let the whole pregnant thing sink in for a very long time and I believe that part of me was thinking all the things that could happen now that I was pregnant. He could stop loving me, he could decide tomorrow that all of this was happening to fast and move back to that empty house in PA he still owned. The list was long and I was stressed out. So many things started to go wrong after that, I lost my job, I lost the food stamps that I had been getting for the boys, I was waiting on child support that hadn't gone through yet, I was sick every morning and every evening because this new baby wasn't sitting well in my stomach. I was tired all the time, my sister finally moved out on her own, only for my other sister to start having difficulties and needing support. When more shit hit the fan, halfway into our relationship I was waiting for the shoe to finally drop. It's now or never, he is done, he's out of here. I kept allowing the litany to play over and over in my head. I was waiting for it to happen. I was waiting to see the judgement in other peoples eyes, people whose opinions might matter to this man who had started to become the best friend I ever had, the beat of my own heart. I was terrified through out the who 9 months. I was emotional and a time-bomb, waiting to go off. When I would hear people say things like he doesn't know what he is doing, or ask him if he was happy, when they thought I couldn't hear, I would hold my breath, waiting for him to hesitate, waiting for that pause as if he is thinking about the answer. It never came.
When he went and got the word forever tattooed across his upper back, the word we were using to describe our promise to each other. I knew, without a doubt that he was mine, but I was still afraid. It's just a word, promises are broken all the time. Hadn't I learned that already so many times over, since I was a little girl! Promises mean nothing.
When Ian's arrival came, I watched as he became serious as I pushed our first son into this world, I watched his amazement at that moment, at what I had just done. I held my breath, waiting to be forgotten in the excitement of a child's first cries, but as soon as they had him cleaned up and under the lights, Patrick came over to me and kissed me, he smiled down into my face and he told me he loved me. I cried inside, I cried because it was him, telling me he loved me not because I just gave him a son, but because since that first kiss he stole in the car almost a year hence, he had already loved me.
We were tied closer together now, more then ever. We had a child together, but we were linked.
Have there been times that I think he may have questioned our relationship. I try not to think about it, but when it became kind of obvious that we weren't getting any closer to getting "engaged" then married, I started to feel like maybe we had started to fall apart. I was always terrified those first 3 years. Waiting for him to call it quits, that he had had enough of my insane, lovable family and our need to always help each other. That he might thrive in Chaos but really how much chaos can one person take, I sure as hell know that I was at a breaking point a time or two. He didn't though and when I raised my concerns that we were like two really great friends raising a child together and sharing in the raising of my other two children, he just looked at me and smiled. It took me a long time to realize that, that is okay. Being friends, was alright. We weren't competing for attention and we weren't losing anything, we were close enough to enjoy each others company and we were doing the best thing for our family. When the day came that we finally decided to get married it was exactly how we made the arrangement to move in together. It started with a promise, not a ring, it started with a decision that made sense to our situation at the time. We didn't need to get married to confirm what we already knew about our relationship, we got married because we wanted too. We got married, and we fell in love with each other again while vowing forever and agreeing to a promise once more.
It's been 3 years and 5 months since we got married and you know what, I think we are more in love now then we have ever been. We definitely share a lot more, we have more passion, more understanding, a stronger commitment, then I have ever seen two people share. We have four sons now and we are complete with ourselves.
Our life together will always be built on a promise, more then one and they change each year. A promise to always listen, to always be friends, to love without holding back, to put our children before ourselves, to hold hands even if we are mad at each other, to never go to bed angry, to kiss often and hug always, to laugh as much as possible and to live! I don't really care anymore what people thought about me nearly seven years ago. I honestly think that we had always been searching for each other, that we really honestly needed each other at the moment that our paths were brought together.
I grew up in Rahway and thank goodness I decided I needed to come back home! Home is where the heart is they say, and Rahway made a promise to my heart so many years ago, that when I came back it fulfilled my wish!